March 6, 2013 Leave a comment
What if one in every 334 people you knew was an amputee? Not one in every 334 veterans or diabetics—but one in every 334 men, women and children from all backgrounds. Furthermore, what if this tragedy occurred nationally and the factor causing the loss of limbs also contributed to the malnutrition of one in every three people? Would you and your neighbors demand an investigation? Email your congressperson or other governmental representative? Call your lawyer? Think about it. What WOULD you do? Unfortunately, if landmines caused the problem, you might not be able to do very much at all.
I recently received a copy of the latest MAG America Quarterly Review from Mines Advisory Group (MAG). MAG is an international organization that saves lives and builds futures through the destruction of weapons in conflict-affected countries. I extracted the following information about Angola from that quarterly review.
- Angola’s civil war lasted 27 years and ended in 2002. Today, landmines still contaminate all 18 provinces in the country.
- Angola’s population exceeds 18 million. The number of Angolan casualties due to landmine/explosive remnants of war is unknown. Estimates, however, range from 23,000 to 80,000. At one point, there was thought to be approximately one amputee per every 334 people in Angola.
- Angola is an agrarian society, using the land for food, water and livelihoods. Land contaminated with landmines is not safe for such usage. Although Angola possesses a wealth of fertile land, only 3% of all arable land is currently being cultivated. Thus, studies have illustrated that more Angolans have died from poor water, sanitation, disease and malnutrition than from direct injuries.
- Sixty-eight percent of Angola’s population lives below the poverty line of $1.70 per day. Twenty-eight percent live on less than $0.70 per day.
- During the civil war, 500,000 Angolans sought refuge in other countries. In June 2012, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) ended refugee status for Angolans living in neighboring African countries. In select provinces, the only land available to these returning refugees is contaminated with landmines and unexploded bombs.
MAG has worked in Angola since 1994, (1) deploying Mine Action teams to address the incredible need for clearance and, (2) employing local Community Liaison Teams (CLT) to teach their fellow Angolans about the danger that surrounds them and how to avoid it. CLTs also gather vital information from the local population relating to the physical location of unexploded ordnance and suspected mine fields.
With so many refugees returning, the work of the CLTs will be more critical than ever. From February to May, 2013, MAG America is running a $100,000 fundraising campaign for Angola. The funds will be used to deploy a life-saving Community Liaison Team for five months.
You can make a difference. To donate to this campaign, go to http://www.magamerica.org/ and click on the red “Donate Now” button. In the comments section of the donation form, be sure to indicate that you want to donate to the $100,000 Campaign for Angola.
And please watch the new documentary posted on the MAG site — Surviving the Peace: Angola. The link can be accessed from the http://www.magamerica.org/ home page.
Warm wishes and stay safe,
Laurel Anne Hill, Moderator